Health food firm fined 1,000 pounds over IQ claim for pills

A HEALTH food firm was fined a total of pounds 1,000 and ordered to pay pounds 35,000 prosecution costs yesterday over claims that its vitamin pills could improve a child's IQ.

Larkhall Natural Health was found guilty of three charges under the Trades Description Act relating to the packaging of its tablets called Tandem IQ. It is the third manufacturer of vitamin pills to be prosecuted this year.

In the latest case brought by Shropshire County Council's trading standards department, the stipendiary magistrate, Harry Hatchard, said he was satisfied there was reliable evidence that only children with a dietary deficiency were likely to benefit from vitamin and mineral supplements.

He was also satisfied that a significant number of potential customers could be misled into thinking that the tablets were capable of a general and widespread effect in increasing the IQ of children.

After the hearing David Walker, of Shropshire trading standards department, said: 'If this means that generalised claims that taking these supplements will increase your child's IQ are no longer used, then we will have achieved our purpose.'

A spokesman for the London- based company said it was considering an appeal.

The controversy over vitamins and IQ began four years ago. It had seemed like the answer to every parent's prayer. A daily dose would improve the intelligence of their children. Scientists said so.

It was such a simple remedy and relatively cheap. The manufacturers of health food supplements were even more enchanted by the possibilities. Sales rocketed.

Claims of the power of vitamins to improve health and intelligence have been made since the 1940s and many trials in Third World countries have attested to the benefits of treating vitamin deficiency.

The most recent arguments have involved claims and counter claims from scientists, statements from the Department of Health and the Medical Research Council and programmes on television.

In 1988, Dr David Benton, a research psychologist at the University of Wales at Swansea, published results of a study of two groups of 12 year-olds given either vitamin and mineral supplements or placebo pills. The children on the supplements did better in subsequent non-verbal reasoning tests. His work was reported in the television programme QED and the formula he used for his research was subsequently marketed at Tandem IQ. Dr Benton concluded that children who were nutritionally deficient might benefit.

His work was supported by other studies, particularly from America. Last year Professor Stephen Schoentaler, of California State University, made similar claims. His results were launched in Britain at the same time as a vitamin and mineral supplement designed for children. This work was also reported on QED.

At the same time other studies could find no benefit in children taking the supplements. These scientists did not argue that their colleagues were wrong, rather that there is insufficient evidence to make claims for improving IQ.

In 1990, David Maclean, who was minister responsible for food safety, advised parents that some claims made for the supplements were false and that taking pills was unnecessary for the majority.

But the idea that vitamins boost intelligence was far more memorable and attractive than the idea that they do not. In 1990, according to a recent edition of the Consumers' Association's Which? Way to Health, Britons spent pounds 52m on vitamin and mineral supplements.

The publication, having studied the available research, also concluded that there was no evidence that they relieved stress, increased energy or boosted intelligence.

The orthodox view is that the type of diet eaten by British children is varied enough to be entirely adequate, even if it is in some cases too heavy on burgers and crisps.

Dr Michael Nelson, lecturer in nutrition at King's College, London, who gave evidence in the Tandem IQ case said that if there was an argument for these supplements for children then it would be among the families the least able to afford them.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
people
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
people
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
Arts and Entertainment
Warner Bros released a mock-up of what the new Central Perk will look like
tv'Friends' cafe will be complete with Gunther and orange couch
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Java Developer - 1 year contract

£350 - £400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Cent...

Junior Analyst - Graduate - 6 Month fixed term contract

£17000 - £20000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

£450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

Project Manager - Pensions

£32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone